Always a Bridesmaid…

"You look beautiful, Kahlan," Dennee says warmly, trying to reassure her jittery sister.

Kahlan is heavily pregnant, but still seems light on her feet as she paces in front of the mirror.

Dennee guesses, a little bitterly, that Kahlan hasn't had much morning sickness, either.

Traveling across the Midlands fighting this new Blood of the Fold while she was pregnant may have been difficult, but Dennee doubts it compares to the same condition in a D'Haran prison.

But this is Kahlan's special day, and Dennee won't be spiteful—her sister deserves better.

"Do you think Richard will like it?" Kahlan asks breathily, transformed before Dennee's eyes from the awe-inspiring Mother Confessor to just another giddy bride to be.

Dennee wants to roll her eyes, but reflects that it could be worse; Kahlan asked The Mord'Sith (there's only one for Dennee, the worst of them all, and her sister's best friend) to stand with her, beside Dennee and little Jennsen, who has just arrived with the other Mord'Sith of note, Madame Denna, and the great tyrant Darken Rahl, Kahlan's soon-to-be brother-in-law. (All that trouble to defeat him, and now they ally against a greater threat…life is unjust.)

But The Mord'Sith is going to stand with Richard. He says she is as close as family.

Dennee worries about Richard—worries about her sister, marrying Lord Rahl, however unwilling a ruler he may be.

But it's plain to the meanest intelligence how much Richard loves Kahlan. Doubting that their love is true and legendary and meant to endure feels like doubting the existence of the Creator.

"Richard," Dennee replies, putting an arm around Kahlan in a ginger hug, so as not to disarrange her elaborately curled hair, "will love it."

Kahlan smiles, and she looks as radiant as if the bonding ceremony were already beginning.

Beside her, Dennee feels ill at ease in her borrowed body—who is the stranger standing next to her sister in the mirror?

She may be wearing someone else's face, but she isn't wearing someone else's life—it can only fall to Dennee to marry her sister to the Seeker of Truth, Lord Rahl…the one man who, it is said, was deemed worthy by the Creator to be immune to Confession. It's supposed to be a reward, for how Richard and Kahlan saved the world. They are both remarkably closemouthed on the subject.

(Darken Rahl is also immune to Confession, though not for the same reason, which Dennee considers a great pity.)

There's the sound of some commotion in the courtyard of the People's Palace (the place still makes Dennee uncomfortable) and Kahlan rushes to the window, skirts rustling, trying to catch a glimpse of Richard before the ceremony—he will be greeting the new arrivals, refugees fleeing the Blood of the Fold now sweeping the countryside.

They burned a whole village to the ground because they claimed a witch lived there, which proves that, though the enemy may change, the war never does. Dennee has seen too many innocents suffer and die (she's been one).

Dennee walks more leisurely, taking the time to really see the window panes (glass is so expensive in the Midlands, but they use it for everything in D'Hara), and the four-leaf clover pattern at the top of each large window.

Those clovers were once considered lucky, but they seem to be rather a staple of D'Haran architecture, and Dennee can no longer appreciate them.

Kahlan loves Richard, and so she doesn't see how difficult all this is. But just because the Midlands love the Seeker of Truth, doesn't mean they don't hate anyone calling himself Lord Rahl. Richard and Kahlan are trying to play both sides against the middle—sooner or later, they will inevitably get burned.

But Kahlan is already half-D'Haran now, or so it seems—and Dennee has no lover immune to her Confessor's touch.

She hates feeling jealous of Kahlan—it makes her teeth hurt.

Dennee turns on her heel and goes to find Dahlia, her only true friend here (Kahlan is family, and the others all little more than strangers).

A year ago, Zedd and The Mord'Sith brought Dahlia and Sam, who is of an age with Renn, to stay with Dennee in Aydindril. Where they would be safe.

But even Aydindril isn't safe anymore, and they may be in D'Hara for longer than Dennee wishes, after the wedding.

Dahlia shows a distressing partiality for The Mord'Sith, but Dennee forgives her that, not least because it keeps The Mord'Sith from being at Kahlan's side perpetually. Besides, Dahlia is marvelous with Renn and little Edmund.

"Dennee!" Dahlia welcomes her at the door of the nursery with a friendly and totally unselfconscious hug. "How's the bride?"

"Radiant," Dennee says honestly. "Have you got the flowers for Sam and Renn to throw?"

Dahlia makes a face. "They're refusing, on 'ecological grounds'—I swear, I don't know what I did to deserve that Sister Verna. She's going to poison my own son against me."

"I'll talk to them," Dennee promises, as Edmund walks unsteadily toward her, proudly showing off his ambulatory ability.

"Good job, sweetheart," she says, lifting him into her arms.

There's another four-leaf clover window in the nursery, but Dennee doesn't mind. Maybe D'Hara won't be such a bad place for Kahlan's daughters to grow up—not if Richard and Kahlan can find more people as lovely as Dahlia, at least.

Dennee may be jealous, but she's mostly just happy. Kahlan deserves this joy.

And Dennee has a few reasons to be thankful, herself.